Vendor Due Diligence

Vendor due diligence (VDD) is a type of due diligence that is conducted by a seller (the vendor) in preparation for a potential transaction, typically a merger or acquisition (M&A). It involves a thorough review of the seller’s financial, legal, and operational records and other key aspects of its business, with the goal of identifying any potential issues that could impact the transaction.

Vendor due diligence is often initiated by the seller as a proactive measure to provide potential buyers with a comprehensive understanding of the business and to help facilitate a smoother and more efficient transaction process. By conducting a thorough review of its own records and identifying any potential issues upfront, the seller can address those issues and provide buyers with greater confidence in the transaction.

The scope of vendor due diligence can vary depending on the size and complexity of the transaction and the nature of the seller’s business. Generally, it includes engaging third-party advisors, such as accounting and tax firms, law firms, and specialty consulting firms to review the following areas:

  1. Financial records: This includes a review of the seller’s financial statements, including balance sheets, income statements, cash flow statements, and tax records. The purpose is to identify any potential issues with the seller’s financial performance, such as revenue recognition, cash flow issues, or tax liabilities.
  2. Legal records: This includes a review of the seller’s contracts, licenses, permits, and other legal documentation to identify any potential legal issues, such as pending lawsuits or regulatory violations.
  3. Operational records: This includes a review of the seller’s operational processes and procedures, including inventory management, supply chain management, and customer relations, to identify any potential operational issues that could impact the transaction.
  4. Human resources: This includes a review of the seller’s human resources policies and procedures, employee benefits, and any potential labor or employment law issues.

Once the vendor due diligence is complete, the seller will typically prepare a report summarizing the findings and any potential issues identified. The report is then shared with potential buyers as part of the due diligence process.

By conducting vendor due diligence, sellers can provide buyers with a comprehensive understanding of their business and help to mitigate potential risks associated with the transaction. It can also help to facilitate a smoother and more efficient transaction process, reducing the risk of unexpected surprises and delays.

VDD can be a useful tool in M&A transactions, particularly for larger transactions where the benefits of increased transparency and reduced transaction time may outweigh the costs. However, it is important for buyers to carefully evaluate the scope and quality of the VDD and to conduct their own independent due diligence to ensure that they have a complete and accurate understanding of the target company’s position.

Pros of Vendor Due Diligence

  1. Increased transparency: VDD can provide greater transparency and clarity about the target company’s financial, operational, and legal position, which can help to reduce the risk of surprises during the due diligence process.
  2. Reduced transaction time: Since much of the due diligence work has already been completed by the seller, the buyer can avoid duplication of effort and reduce the time required to complete the transaction.
  3. Competitive advantage: VDD can help the seller to differentiate its offering from other potential targets in the market by providing a more complete and transparent picture of the target company’s position.
  4. Improved valuation: By providing more accurate and reliable information about the target company, VDD can help the buyer to more accurately value the target and avoid overpaying.

Cons of Vendor Due Diligence

  1. Cost: VDD can be expensive, particularly for smaller transactions, and can add to the overall cost of the transaction.
  2. Limited scope: The scope of VDD is often limited to the areas that the seller is willing to disclose and may not uncover all potential issues or risks associated with the target company.
  3. Credibility: Some buyers may be skeptical of VDD conducted by the seller or its advisors and may prefer to conduct their own independent due diligence.
  4. Risk of bias: There is a risk that the seller may be biased in its presentation of the target company’s position and may not disclose all relevant information or risks.

VDD vs. Traditional Due Diligence

VDD and traditional due diligence are two methods of assessing the target company’s financial, legal, and operational status before an M&A transaction. While both methods aim to identify and mitigate risks associated with the transaction, there are some key differences between them.

One major difference is the timing of the due diligence process. In traditional due diligence, the buyer conducts the due diligence process after signing the letter of intent (LOI) and before closing the transaction. On the other hand, VDD is conducted by the seller before the LOI is signed, and the buyer can review the VDD report during the negotiation phase.

Another key difference is the scope of the due diligence process. In traditional due diligence, the buyer typically conducts a comprehensive review of the target company’s financial statements, tax returns, contracts, legal documents, and other relevant information. In contrast, VDD typically focuses on a narrower set of issues, such as financial performance, tax compliance, legal and regulatory compliance, and operational efficiency.


Amy is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), having worked in the accounting industry for 14 years. She is a seasoned finance executive having held various positions both in public accounting and most recently as the Chief Financial Officer of a large manufacturing company based out of Michigan.